Friday, November 25, 2011


Excerpts from One Thousand Gifts that are carrying His light and joy into my soul:

All my eyes can seem to fixate on are the splatters of disappointment across here and me.
I don't need more time to breathe so that I may experience more locales, possess more, accomplish more. Because wonder really could be here - for the seeing eyes.
So - more time for more what?
The face of Jesus flashes. Jesus, the God-man with his own termination date. Jesus, the God-man who came to save me from prisons of fear and guilt and depression and sadness. With an expiration date of less than twelve hours, what does Jesus count as all most important?
"And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them..." (Luke 22:19)
In the original language, "he gave thanks" reads 'eucharisteo."
I underline it on the page. Can it lay a sure foundation under a life? Offer the fullest life?
The root word of eucharisteo is charis, meaning "grace." Jesus took the bread and saw it as a grace and gave thanks. He took the bread and knew it to be gift and gave thanks.
But there is more, and I read it. Eucharisteo, thanksgiving, envelopes the Greek word for grace, charis. But it also holds its derivative, the Greek word chara, meaning "joy." Joy. Ah...yes. I might be needing me some of that. That might be what the quest for more is all about - that which Augustine claimed, "Without exception...all try their hardest to reach the same goal, that is, joy."
I breathe deep, like a sojourner finally coming home. That has always been the goal of the fullest life - joy. And my life knew exactly how elusive that slippery three-letter word, joy, can be. I think of it then again, that night if nightmares, the flailing, frantic, moon-eyed lunge for more. More what? And this was it; I could tell how my whole being responded to that one word, I longed for more life, for more holy joy.
Deep chara joy is found only at the table of the euCHARisteo - the table of thanksgiving. I sit there it that simple?
Is the height of my chara joy dependent on the depths of my eucharisteo thanks?
So then as long as thanks is possible...I think this through. As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible. Joy is always possible. The holy grail of joy is not in some exotic location or some emotional mountain peak experience. The joy wonder could be here! Here, in the messy, piercing ache of now, joy might be - unbelievably - possible! The only place we need see before we die is this place of seeing God, here and now.
I whisper it out loud, let the tongue feel these sounds, the ear hear their truth.
Charis. Grace.
Eucharisteo. Thanskgiving.
Chara. Joy.
A triplet of stars, a constellation in the black.
A threefold cold that might hold a life? Offer a way up into the fullest life?

...I open my Bible, the red pen in hand, hunt down the trail of eucharisteo through Scripture. Where it leads barbs, and I am suprised and I reel.
"On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces..." (1 Cor 11:23-24) Jesus, on the night before the driving hammer and iron piercing through ligament and sinew, receives what God offers as grace (charis), the germ of His thanksgiving (eucharisteo)? Oh. Facing the abandonment of God Himself (does it get any worse than this?), Jesus offers thanksgiving for even that which will break Him and crush Him and wound Him and yield a bounty of joy (chara). The mystery always contains more mysteries.
Do I really want this way?

"One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, and praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him - and he was a Samaritan." (Luke 17:15-16). Yes, thankfulness, I know. Next verse.
Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well." (Luke 17:17-19)
Wait. I trace back. Hadn't Jesus already completely healed him? Exactly like the other nine who were cured who hadn't bothered to return and thank Him. So what does Jesus mean, "Your faith has made you well"? Had I underinterpreted this passage, missing some hidden mystery? I slow down and dig. I read Jesus' words in Young's Literal Translation, "And {Jesus} said to him, 'Having risen, be going on, thy faith has saved thee.'" Saved thee? I dig deeper. It's sozo in Greek. Many translations render sozo as being made "well" or "whole," but its literal meaning, I read it - "to save." Sozo means salvation. It means true wellness, complete wholeness. To live sozo is to live the full life. Jesus came that we might live life to the full; He came to give us sozo. And when did the leper receive sozo - the saving to the full, whole life? When he returned and gave thanks. I lay down my pen.
(Voskamp, pg 31-33, 36, 38-39)